THE REKINDLING OF THE CIVIC CONSCIENCE is the heading of Isaiah 57 in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Isaiah wrote 57 at the time when Israel was restored from the Babylonian exile beginning in 538 BCE by the decree of Cyrus, allowing Jews to return to Jerusalem
THE REKINDLING OF THE CIVIC CONSCIENCE speaks to us today. Many of God’s people are just now coming out of political Babylon imposed by the Democrats. They have taken many into spiritual captivity and now, only 32% of them believe in the God of the Bible.
The following introduction to Isaiah 57 from the Expositor’s Bible Commentary gives us the lay of the land. As you read this, consider the way of the LORD versus man’s ways.
Isaiah 57:1 ASV
The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.
THE REKINDLING OF THE CIVIC CONSCIENCE
Isaiah 56:9-12; Isaiah 57:1-21; Isaiah 58:1-14; Isaiah 59:1-21IT was inevitable, as soon as their city was again fairly in sight, that there should re-awaken in the exiles the civic conscience; that recollections of those besetting sins of their public life, for which their city and their independence were destroyed, should throng back upon them; that in prospect of their again becoming responsible for the discharge of justice and other political duties, they should be reminded by the prophet of their national faults in these respects, and of God’s eternal laws concerning them. If we keep this in mind, we shall understand the presence in “Second Isaiah” of the group of prophecies at which we have now arrived, Isaiah 56:9-12; Isaiah 57:1-21; Isaiah 58:1-14; Isaiah 59:1-21. Hitherto our prophet, in marked contrast to Isaiah himself, has said almost nothing of the social righteousness of his people. Israel’s righteousness, as we saw in our fourteenth chapter, has had the very different meaning for our prophet of her pardon and restoration to her rights. But in Isaiah 56:9-12; Isaiah 57:1-21; Isaiah 58:1-14; Isaiah 59:1-21 we shall find the blame of civic wrong, and of other kinds of sin of which Israel could only have been guilty in her own land; we shall listen to exhortations to social justice and mercy like those we heard from Isaiah to his generation. Yet these are mingled with voices, and concluded with promises, which speak of the Return as imminent. Undoubtedly exilic elements reveal themselves. And the total impression is that some prophet of the late Exile, and probably the one whom we have been following, collected these reminiscences of his people’s sin in the days of their freedom, in order to remind them, before they went back again to political responsibility, why it was they were punished and how apt they were to go astray. Believing this to be the true solution of a somewhat difficult problem, we have ventured to gather this mixed group of prophecies under the title of the Rekindling of the Civic Conscience. They fall into three groups: first, Isaiah 56:9-12; Isaiah 57:1-21; second, chapter 58; third, chapter 59. We shall see that, while there is no reason to doubt the exilic origin of the whole of the second, the first and third of these are mainly occupied with the description of a state of things that prevailed only before the Exile, but they contain also exilic observations and conclusions.
With that in mind, let’s take in Isaiah 57. I have added emphasis be putting walketh, way and ways in bold.
The Blessed Death of the Righteous
(1 Corinthians 15:50-58)
1The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come .
2He entereth into peace; they rest in their beds, each one that walketh in his uprightness.
God Condemns Idolatry
3But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the harlot.
4Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and put out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood,
5ye that inflame yourselves among the oaks, under every green tree; that slay the children in the valleys, under the clefts of the rocks?
6Among the smooth’stones of the valley is thy portion; they, they are thy lot; even to them hast thou poured a drink-offering, thou hast offered an oblation. Shall I be appeased for these things?
7Upon a high and lofty mountain hast thou set thy bed; thither also wentest thou up to offer sacrifice.
8And behind the doors and the posts hast thou set up thy memorial: for thou hast uncovered thyself to another than me, and art gone up; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee a covenant with them: thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it.
9And thou wentest to the king with oil, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thine ambassadors far off, and didst debase thyself even unto Sheol.
10Thou wast wearied with the length of thy way; yet saidst thou not, It is in vain: thou didst find a quickening of thy strength; therefore thou wast not faint.
11And of whom hast thou been afraid and in fear, that thou liest, and hast not remembered me, nor laid it to thy heart? have not I held my peace even of long time, and thou fearest me not?
12I will declare thy righteousness; and as for thy works, they shall not profit thee.
13When thou criest, let them that thou hast gathered deliver thee; but the wind shall take them, a breath shall carry them all away: but he that taketh refuge in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain.
Healing for the Repentant
(Jeremiah 3:11-25; Hosea 14:1-3; Zechariah 1:1-6)
14And he will say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling-block out of the way of my people.
15For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.
16For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit would faint before me, and the souls that I have made.
17For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him; I hid my face and was wroth; and he went on backsliding in the way of his heart.
18I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.
19I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace, to him that is far off and to him that is near, saith Jehovah; and I will heal him.
20But the wicked are like the troubled sea; for it cannot rest, and its waters cast up mire and dirt.
21There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
For more perspective, read The Vision of the Fall of Babylon in Revelation 18.